Sending acutely ill mental health patients out of area ‘increases post-discharge suicide risk’
National inquiry on suicide calls for end to out of area placements for acute admissions and urges commissioners to review safety of acute services
The practice of NHS mental health services sending acutely ill mental health patients to out of area hospitals heightens the risk of suicide on discharge and should stop, experts say.
Researchers at the national confidential inquiry on suicide also recommended that crisis resolution teams should not be used as a default for patients who are at high risk or who lack social supports. Suicides of patients under care of the teams, which are used by the NHS as a home-based alternative to hospital care, increased in 2013 after years of numbers remaining relatively stable, the inquiry found.
Risk of out of area placements
The inquiry reviewed suicide and homicide data between 2003 and 2013. Researchers found that the proportion of post-discharge period suicides involving patients placed out of area increased from 6% (around 68 deaths per year) over the 2003 to 2007 period to 11% (109 deaths per year) over the 2008 to 2012 period.
Professor Louis Appleby, the inquiry’s director who was formerly the government’s mental health lead and heads-up the national suicide prevention strategy, said use of out of area placements for acute admissions should cease. Sending people away from local services was likely to disrupt efforts to put support in place for the weeks after they leave hospital, a period of “maximum risk”, he said.
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